LION’S MANE MUSHROOM BENEFITS – What Is Lion’s Mane And What Does It Do?

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Lions Mane Mushroom Benefits
LION’S MANE MUSHROOM BENEFITS – What Is Lion’s Mane And What Does It Do? Graphic © Background images: Lebrac (Wikipedia) – lic. under CC 3.0

Edible fungi are a culinary and nutritional powerhouse. They are packed with minerals, vitamins, fiber, and nutritional elements. They’re also low in calories, fat, and sodium. Overall, mushrooms are an excellent source of nutritional value—which is part of the reason they’re increasingly finding their way into health circles.

There are thousands of mushrooms, but a few stand out for their nutritional value and health benefits. One such variety that may offer powerful health benefits is the lion’s mane mushroom.

Beyond its unique shaggy appearance that warrants its name, the Lion’s Mane mushroom has been found to have unique, potent bioactive substances that may improve your cognition, mood, and immune system. But what does the research say?

Here’s what you need to know about Lion’s Mane mushroom.

What Is Lion’s Mane Mushroom?

Lion’s mane mushroom (Latin name Hericium erinaceus) is an edible fungus with a long history of medicinal use in Asian countries like Korea, Japan, India, and China. It’s believed to offer immunostimulating, anti-inflammatory, cardioprotective, antibiotic, antisenescence, neuroprotective, and antioxidative properties. [1]

Like most mushrooms, the lion’s mane has two distinct parts, the fruiting body (the part you see) and the mycelia (branching web of thread-like structure that absorb nutrients).

As Dorian points out, the fruiting body and mycelia have their own unique assortment of bioactive molecules and compounds—which also affects their health impact. He suggests buying lion’s mane products that contain both parts of the mushroom to experience its full benefits.

What Does Lion’s Mane Mushroom Do?

As mentioned earlier, lion’s mane mushroom has traditionally been used as a medicinal food—especially in Asian communities. Emerging studies are increasingly showing that there may be scientific explanations for the mushroom’s health effects.

Lion’s mane is rich in bioactive compounds with a wide range of health-promoting properties, including:

Lion’s Mane May Improve Brain Health and Cognition

It’s always a good idea to keep your brain (aka., the control center of your body) in peak working condition. Whether you’re looking to boost your cognition for improved performance/productivity or to combat age-related cognitive decline, some studies suggest that lion’s mane mushroom may help.

According to a small study appearing in the journal Phytotherapy Research, lion’s mane mushroom was shown to be effective at improving mild cognitive impairment in a group of people aged 50-80 years. [2] Animal studies show similar findings, with lion’s mane linked to neuroprotective effects and better memory. [3]

So, how does lion’s mane improve cognition?

According to a study published in the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, one way lion’s mane mushroom may boost cognition is by increasing the levels of NGF (Nerve Growth Factor). [5] NGF is a neuropeptide involved in the regulation, protection, and growth of certain neurons.

Another study in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences claims that lion’s mane may stimulate the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF is an important protein that helps support the health and growth of neurons. [6]

And while more research is needed, a 2010 study claimed that lion’s mane is able to increase the levels of neurotrophic growth factors because its bioactive compounds hericenones and erinacines can cross the blood-brain barrier. [7]

The mushroom also has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that may help promote the production of more BDNF. [1]

Lion’s Mane May Boost Immunity

A strong immune system is key to protecting your body from the harmful effects of viruses, bacteria, and other disease-causing pathogens.

Research shows that lion’s mane may have beneficial effects on your immune system. According to an animal study in the journal Food & Function, the mushroom was shown to have immunomodulatory effects—mainly through the effective regulation of intestinal immune activity. [8]

Another 2012 study found that lion’s mane extract may help protect against bacterial infection by activating innate immune cells. [9] The mushroom increased the lifespan of mice injected with a lethal dose of salmonella by nearly 4 times.

Lion’s mane may also boost your immunity by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation—two major risk factors for autoimmune disorders, cancer, heart disease, and other modern illnesses. [10][11][12]

Lion’s Mane And Mood Improvement

According to findings from a random controlled trial published in the journal Biomed Research, lion’s mane may help improve your mood. The researchers examined a group of 30 women for a month and noted that participants who ate lion’s mane cookies reported better mood than those who ate placebo cookies. [13]

Other studies suggest that consuming lion’s mane may help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression. [6][14] The mushroom may also exert its antidepressant and anxiolytic effects by improving the functioning of the hippocampus—a region of the brain associated with emotional response memory processing. [15]

Phytochemicals in Lion’s Mane – A Detailed List

The following is a detailed list of individual molecules identified in Lion’s Mane:


These compounds are extracted from the fruiting body of Lion’s Mane. Hericenones are known for their ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and stimulate the production of nerve growth factor (NGF), which plays a crucial role in the regeneration and repair of the brain and nervous system. Hericenones are known for their potential neuroprotective effects. Below is a list of hericenones along with a brief description of their molecular structures:

Hericenone A: This molecule is characterized by a benzene ring attached to a nine-membered lactone ring.

Hericenone B: Similar to Hericenone A, it also features a benzene ring but with a different arrangement of functional groups on the lactone ring.

Hericenone C: This compound has a benzene ring connected to a larger lactone structure, distinguished by additional oxygen-containing functional groups.

Hericenone D: It consists of a benzene ring linked to a lactone ring, with a unique arrangement of hydroxyl groups.

Hericenone E: This molecule features a benzene ring and a lactone ring, with specific variations in the positioning of hydroxyl and other functional groups.

Hericenone F: It has a complex structure with a benzene ring and a distinct lactone ring, marked by additional oxygen and hydroxyl groups.

Hericenone G: This compound is characterized by a benzene ring attached to a unique lactone structure, with specific functional groups.

Hericenone H: It features a benzene ring linked to a lactone ring, with a distinctive arrangement of functional groups.

Hericenone I: This molecule has a benzene ring connected to a lactone ring, with particular variations in its functional groups.

Hericenone J: Similar to other hericenones, it consists of a benzene ring and a lactone ring, with its own unique set of functional groups.

Each hericenone has a distinct molecular structure, which contributes to its bioactivity. These structures are characterized by variations in ring sizes, types of rings (like benzene or lactone), and the positioning and types of functional groups (like hydroxyl groups). These structural differences play a crucial role in their biological activity and potential therapeutic effects.


Similar to hericenones, erinacines are also extracted from the mushroom’s mycelia and fruiting body. Erinacines are a group of bioactive compounds known for their neurotrophic properties, particularly their ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and stimulate the production of nerve growth factor (NGF). Below is a list of some known erinacines along with a brief description of their molecular structures:

Erinacine A: This compound has a diterpenoid structure with a characteristic 11-membered macrocyclic lactone ring and a cyclic ether.

Erinacine B: Similar to Erinacine A, it also features a diterpenoid skeleton but with variations in the side chains and functional groups.

Erinacine C: This molecule is characterized by a diterpenoid core with a unique arrangement of functional groups and a macrocyclic lactone ring.

Erinacine D: It consists of a diterpenoid structure with a distinct macrocyclic lactone ring and additional functional groups.

Erinacine E: This compound features a diterpenoid backbone with a macrocyclic lactone ring and specific variations in its functional groups.

Erinacine F: It has a complex diterpenoid structure with a unique macrocyclic lactone ring and additional oxygen-containing functional groups.

Erinacine H: Characterized by a diterpenoid skeleton with a macrocyclic lactone ring and distinct functional group arrangements.

Erinacine I: This molecule features a diterpenoid core with a macrocyclic lactone ring and specific functional groups.

Erinacine J: Similar to other erinacines, it consists of a diterpenoid structure with a macrocyclic lactone ring and unique functional groups.

Erinacine K: This compound has a diterpenoid backbone with a distinct macrocyclic lactone ring and specific functional group arrangements.

Each erinacine has a unique molecular structure characterized by a diterpenoid skeleton and variations in macrocyclic lactone rings and functional groups. These structural differences are crucial for their biological activity and potential therapeutic effects, particularly in neuroprotection and enhancement of cognitive functions.


Lion’s Mane contains various polysaccharides. These compounds are immuno-active and are responsible for the mushroom’s anti-cancer, immunomodulating, hypo-lipidemic, antioxidant, and neuroprotective actions. Their specific structures, which include various types of glycosidic linkages and monosaccharide compositions, are key to their biological activities. These activities range from boosting the immune system and exhibiting antioxidant properties to potentially playing a role in neuroprotection and gut health. Here’s a list of some key polysaccharides found in Lion’s Mane, along with specific details for each:

– Structure: Composed of β-(1→3) linkages in the main chain with β-(1→6) branch points.
– Properties: Known for their immune-boosting properties. They can stimulate the immune system by enhancing macrophage activity and modulating cytokine production.

– Structure: Complex structures containing various monosaccharides like glucose, galactose, mannose, xylose, and arabinose.
– Properties: Exhibits antioxidant activities and can promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, contributing to gut health.

– Structure: A type of hemicellulose consisting of a xylose backbone with glucose side chains.
– Properties: May have immunostimulating effects and contribute to the overall antioxidant capacity of the mushroom.

– Structure: Composed of a glucan backbone with xylose and galactose residues.
– Properties: Known for its potential in enhancing immune responses and possibly playing a role in cancer prevention.

– Structure: Complex molecules consisting of polysaccharides covalently bonded to proteins.
– Properties: These compounds can exhibit various biological activities, including immunomodulatory and antitumor effects.

– Structure: Composed primarily of α-(1→4) glycosidic linkages, similar to starch.
– Properties: Less studied than beta-glucans, but they may also contribute to the mushroom’s health benefits, particularly in terms of energy provision and possibly digestive health.

– Structure: A polysaccharide composed of mannose and galactose units.
– Properties: It may have potential immunomodulatory effects and contribute to the mushroom’s overall health benefits.

Other Bioactive Components:

Dilinoleoyl-phosphatidylethanolamine (DLPE): This molecule is another significant component of Lion’s Mane, contributing to its array of health benefits.

Ergothioneine (ERGO): Found in high amounts in the primordium extract of Hericium erinaceus, ERGO, also known as the “longevity vitamin,” exhibits anti-aging properties. It plays a role in reducing oxidative stress markers and has neuroprotective effects.

(References: [13][14][15][16][17][18])

Dilinoleoyl-phosphatidylethanolamine (DLPE) In Greater Depth

Dilinoleoyl-phosphatidylethanolamine (DLPE) is a phospholipid found in Lion’s Mane that has been the subject of various scientific studies due to its unique properties and potential health benefits.

1. Molecular Dynamics and Self-Organization: A study focused on the molecular dynamics of DLPE, particularly its behavior in forming stable lipid aggregates. Researchers created a system with 160 DLPE molecules in an aqueous phase and simulated their molecular dynamics using advanced computational methods. This study was pivotal in understanding the aggregation behavior of DLPE molecules and their potential role in forming stable lipid structures, which could be significant in studying the properties of the inner mitochondrial membrane. [19]

2. Neuroprotective Properties: DLPE extracted from Lion’s Mane mushroom has shown potential in protecting against endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress-dependent cell death in neuronal cells. This property of DLPE is particularly significant in the context of neurodegenerative diseases, where ER stress-induced cell death is a common pathological feature. The study indicated that DLPE might exert its protective effects via the protein kinase C (PKC) pathway, highlighting its potential as a therapeutic agent in neurodegenerative conditions. [20]

How To Take Lion’s Mane Mushroom

Interested in lion’s mane for its health or culinary benefits? You can enjoy the mushroom cooked, raw, steeped as tea, or dried. However a more typical way to add lion’s mane to your diet is through supplementation. But as Dorian insists, ensure you get high-quality products that contain the fruiting body and mycelia. This allows you to experience all the cognitive and immune health benefits of the mushroom.



[1] Friedman, M. (2015). Chemistry, nutrition, and health-promoting properties of Hericium erinaceus (Lion’s Mane) mushroom fruiting bodies and mycelia and their bioactive compounds. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 63(32), 7108-7123:

[2] Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: A double‐blind placebo‐controlled clinical trial. (2009) Phytotherapy Research: An International Journal Devoted to Pharmacological and Toxicological Evaluation of Natural Product Derivatives, 23(3), 367-372:

[3] Dietary supplementation of Hericium erinaceus increases mossy fiber-CA3 hippocampal neurotransmission and recognition memory in wild-type mice. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2017:

[4] Erinacine A-enriched Hericium erinaceus mycelium ameliorates Alzheimer’s disease-related pathologies in APPswe/PS1dE9 transgenic mice. Journal of biomedical science, 23(1), 1-12 (2016)

[5] Neurotrophic properties of the lion’s mane medicinal mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia. International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, 15(6). (2013)

[6] Erinacine A-enriched Hericium erinaceus mycelium produces antidepressant-like effects through modulating BDNF/PI3K/Akt/GSK-3β signaling in mice. (2018) International journal of molecular sciences, 19(2), 341:

[7] Hericenones and erinacines: stimulators of nerve growth factor (NGF) biosynthesis in Hericium erinaceus. Mycology, 1(2), 92-98 (2010).

[8] Immunomodulatory effects of Hericium erinaceus derived polysaccharides are mediated by intestinal immunology. Food & Function, 8(3), 1020-1027 (2017)

[9] Hericium erinaceus mushroom extracts protect infected mice against Salmonella Typhimurium-induced liver damage and mortality by stimulation of innate immune cells. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 60(22), 5590-5596. (2012)

[10] Hunter, P. (2012). The inflammation theory of disease: The growing realization that chronic inflammation is crucial in many diseases opens new avenues for treatment. EMBO reports, 13(11), 968-970:

[11] Hou, Y., Ding, X., & Hou, W. (2015). Composition and antioxidant activity of water-soluble oligosaccharides from Hericium erinaceus. Molecular medicine reports, 11(5), 3794-3799:

[12] Mori, K., Ouchi, K., & Hirasawa, N. (2015). The anti-inflammatory effects of lion’s mane culinary-medicinal mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) in a coculture system of 3T3-L1 adipocytes and RAW264 macrophages. International journal of medicinal mushrooms, 17(7):

[13] Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus intake. Biomedical Research, 31(4), 231-237. (2010)

[14] Effects of amycenone on serum levels of tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin-10, and depression-like behavior in mice after lipopolysaccharide administration (2015). Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 136, 7-12:

[15] Hericium erinaceus extract reduces anxiety and depressive behaviors by promoting hippocampal neurogenesis in the adult mouse brain. Journal of medicinal food, 21(2), 174-180, (2018).

[16] “Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus): A Potential Treatment for Neurologic Disorders in Veterinary Medicine” (2023) –

[17] “Mechanism of Hericium erinaceus (Yamabushitake) mushroom-induced apoptosis of U937 human monocytic leukemia cells” (2011) –

[18] “Searching for a Longevity Food, We Bump into Hericium erinaceus Primordium Rich in Ergothioneine: The “Longevity Vitamin” Improves Locomotor Performances during Aging” (2022) –

[19] “Molecular Dynamics of the Self-Organization of Dilinoleoyl Phosphatidylethanolamine Molecules” (2021) –

[20] “Dilinoleoyl-phosphatidylethanolamine from Hericium erinaceum protects against ER stress-dependent Neuro2a cell death via protein kinase C pathway” (2006) –

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